The fake chestnuts are falling in the garden across the street. They’re fake because they’re a different type – the shell is less sharp and pointed. In the tower house, there was a real chestnut tree out by the outhouse. If I moved my flip-flopped feet towards the edge of the shower platform, I’d touch the spines from last fall, and I can only imagine it feels like getting quilled by a porcupine, like a bee sting. Even after I walk away, it still burns for a few minutes. You can’t eat the fake ones though, so they lay to waste on the gravel, the ones crushed from the tractor get picked at by the pidgeons.
It was another glowing orange sunset this evening. We walked to the bread shop and then the deli and back through the park, the quiet park, long gone are the nights of midnight picnics or the live music echoing above the heat bugs. The bar has disappeared, a mud patch in the corner. Everyone is starting to nestle in until the holiday lights pull them out onto the streets again. Frank is there with his owner and a few other dogs. We let Luna off the leash and she takes off into the grass at full speed, turning tight circles of excitement in the twilight chasing the others. A train rushes by in the background. I sneak a bite of a mini croissant from the bags of bread and break open more of the fake chesnuts at my feet. The most I knew about chestnuts before moving here was that there was at least one tree of them in the Public Garden in Boston and that in traditional Christmas carols, people used to roast them on the fire. Now I know the difference between the real and fake.
Just yesterday, I read about a mushroom that grows on trees in New England that’s edible and tastes like chicken, but no one I knew ever knew that. The neighborhood kids would gawk at the Chinese family that’d trudge into the woods with plastic bags. Now I regret not knowing the herbology of New England, but I’m making up for it around here in Tuscany. Next goal – to find and identify a fresh Porcini mushroom.